Posts Tagged ‘Restaurant’

Experts share favorite Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants for holiday celebrations

ORLANDO, Fla. (October 25, 2017) – As millions of people make plans to travel this holiday season, hotels and restaurants are unpacking decorations and spicing up menus to help their guests get into the holiday spirit. Travelers and diners looking for the comforts of home without the stress of hosting during the holidays can find festive and family-friendly activities, extravagant light displays and décor, sensational seasonal menus and much more at properties across the United States and Canada.

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To help those travelers who are looking for a little extra holiday magic, AAA’s professional inspectors, who conduct annual evaluations of nearly 59,000 AAA Inspected & Approved hotels and restaurants, have selected 12 of their favorite festive Diamond Rated properties to visit this holiday season.

Hotels with Holiday Cheer for the Entire Family – Go ice skating, take a sleigh ride or join in a “reindog” parade. These AAA inspector picks offer visitors hands-on ways to enjoy the holidays away from home throughout the season.

Set at the base of Blackcomb Mountain, this gorgeous property is perfect for skiers. Activities in the nearby village include sleigh rides, ice skating and plenty of options for shopping and dining. Visitors can also enjoy daily holiday arts and crafts and other family-friendly activities, a special Christmas dinner, as well as an adults-only New Year’s Eve gala. –Inspector #450

Northern California’s wine region is open for business – wineries and resorts are ready to welcome visitors this holiday season despite recent wildfires. And one of the best things people can do to support the people of Napa is by spending time in the region, helping local businesses get back on their feet. On weekend afternoons in December, hop aboard a festively decorated trolley playing seasonal music, which runs between destination spots like the Oxbow Market and Historic Napa Mill. This cozy bed and breakfast, near the heart of Napa, has a cheerful holiday environment with a beautifully decorated tree and miniature town. –Inspector #569

This property, centrally located in the winter wonderland of Aspen, is lavishly adorned with holiday décor and complete with a mini-gingerbread village. Visitors can enjoy carriage rides through town with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and the hotel provides treats for Santa and his reindeer on Christmas Eve. –Inspector #599

This exclusive, luxury resort features a full calendar of family-friendly offerings, including holiday movie screenings, elf tuck-ins, ornament decorating, a “reindog” parade, gingerbread house and ornament decorating, a Christmas Eve yule log ceremony, Christmas Day brunch and much more. –Inspector #43

Bright Lights, Winter Wonderland – Immerse yourself in extravagant light displays and décor that create a magical environment. Decked out with hundreds of thousands of lights, ornaments and garlands, these AAA inspector picks offer a holiday feast for the eyes.

AAA’s inspector recommends planning your visit after the first week in December, when this beautifully restored historic country inn is turned into a holiday wonderland. The public areas and guestrooms are charmingly decorated with decked-out Christmas trees, a not-so-small collection of Santa figurines and a lighted village display. Guests are welcomed with eggnog and holiday-decorated cookies throughout the season. –Inspector #87

Located just steps from Rockefeller Center, this hotel is regally decorated for the holidays with its own 30-foot Christmas tree featuring 30,000 ornaments and more than 70,000 lights. Enjoy a cup of eggnog or spiced cider, go for a spin around the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink, then stroll by the spectacularly decorated department store windows nearby. –Inspector #592

  • AAA Five Diamond Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nevada

With seasonal sculptures created from thousands of fresh flowers and plants, the resort’s 14,000-square-foot conservatory is a floral fairytale. During the holidays, visitors can enjoy the florally crafted enormous polar bears, life-size snow globes and penguins on display. The lobby and shopping areas are also festively decorated. –Inspector #39

This luxurious resort creates a winter dreamscape with nearly 200,000 lights, ribbons, garlands, wreaths and gloriously decorated trees. Guests can take part in myriad activities, 12 days of holiday themed events and Christmas Day brunch or dinner. –Inspector #76

Holiday Delights for Foodies and More – Sensational holiday-themed menus and settings at these Diamond Rated restaurants and hotels offer festive treats for the discerning foodie to the casual diner looking for a flavorful escape from the usual.

Each Sunday and Wednesday in December, the inn offers a Dickens Dinner with roast duck and pheasant accompanied by a reading from Dickens’ novel, “A Christmas Carol.” Guests can go for a stroll along wooded trails adorned with icicles and lovely buildings set among the Hocking Hills. –Inspector #10

The beautiful dining room’s upscale western flair is transformed with festive decorations and seasonal menus for the holiday season. Sleigh rides at night take guests through a winter light display, complete with hot chocolate and blankets for snuggling. –Inspector #450

  • AAA Four Diamond Circa 1886 in Charleston, South Carolina

This renovated carriage house at the historic Wentworth Mansion offers an intimate dining setting. An annual Dickens Dinner includes a retelling of “A Christmas Carol” with a four-course dinner prepared by the award-winning chef. –Inspector #43

This charming Victorian home decorates every square inch with tasteful holiday décor. Diners can warm up and enjoy a holiday-themed tea with options like gingerbread cheesecake and tea sandwiches with roasted turkey and apple cranberry mustard. –Inspector #593

The year-end holiday season is one of the busiest times of year, when millions of travelers take to the roads and air to spend time with family and friends. To help those who will set out on a holiday getaway this year, AAA’s travel experts offer these travel tips:

  • Plan ahead – Book early for the best deals and availability on hotels, airfare, car rentals and more.
  • Work with a travel agent – Travel agents often have access to extra amenities and added benefits to help plan a magical holiday getaway. They can also be a tremendous help in the event something changes or goes wrong on your trip.
  • Be flexible – If your schedule permits, consider traveling on the holiday itself to encounter less congestion and fewer crowds.
  • Safety first – Get plenty of rest before setting out on a holiday trip. If driving, schedule breaks every two hours or 100 miles to remain alert and avoid driving drowsy.
  • Make sure your vehicle is road trip ready – Motorists should check the car battery and windshield wipers, inspect tires and pack a winter emergency kit containing a snow shovel, flashlight, ice scraper, jumper cables, warning devices and extra warm clothing for everyone riding in the vehicle.
  • Pack your patience – The holiday season is one of the busiest times of year for traveling. Expect heavy crowds and allow plenty of time to get to your destination safely.

For more information to plan a holiday getaway, visit AAA.com/HolidayDiamonds.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Family-friendly places in Orlando top the experts’ lists

Julie HallORLANDO, Fla. (June 13, 2017) – A bustling summer travel season is in full swing and AAA’s team of anonymous inspectors have been busy conducting on-site evaluations of nearly 59,000 hotels and restaurants across North America. To give travelers a taste of the many great places to stay and dine this summer, they’ve selected a few of their favorites in the top 10 North American destinations, based on AAA Travel bookings for trips scheduled for June 1 through August 15, 2017.

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1. Orlando, Florida

Inspector 591’s Favorite Hotel: Disney’s Port Orleans Resort-Riverside (Three Diamond)

Recreational activities include taking a stroll along the river or going on a surrey bike ride, a fishing excursion or horse-drawn carriage ride. Inspector 591 shares, “Opportunities for both relaxation and fun activities are plentiful.”

Inspector 591’s Favorite Restaurant: The BOATHOUSE Waterfront Dining (Three Diamond)
Beautifully restored boats from the 1940s to 1960s are creatively placed around the restaurant. The menu is just as interesting with options like Prince Edward Island steamed mussels and Atlantic swordfish.

 

2. Vancouver, Canada

Inspector 450’s Favorite Hotel: Blue Horizon Hotel (Three Diamond)
These spacious suites have a unique double bank of windows and balconies. Higher floors offer incredible views of the city, English Bay or nearby mountains, depending on room location.

Inspector 450’s Favorite Restaurant: Bistro Absinthe (Three Diamond)
This tiny spot has a bohemian feel with vintage chandeliers, absinthe posters and exposed ceilings. Recipes are classic with a simple clarity of flavor and appealing display. Inspector 450 says, “For what you get, the price is right: high quality, attractively presented, delicious food and the portion size is not too bad either!”

 

3. Cancun, Mexico

Inspector 601’s Favorite Hotel: Hyatt Ziva Cancun (Four Diamond)
Newly renovated, this hotel sits between two great swimming beaches and is walkable to local nightlife and shopping. Inspector 601 exclaims, “This is where I’m bringing my family! A spa for us old folks, a brewpub for Gen X and a sweet shop for the grandkids.”

Inspector 601’s Favorite Restaurant: La Habichuela Sunset (Three Diamond)
Sporting a dramatic Mayan-themed décor, this restaurant prepares the time-honored recipes of the owners and hosts, the Pezzotti family, including seafood ceviche, chilled avocado soup and chicken mole.

 

4.Seattle, Washington

Inspector 31’s Favorite Hotel: Fairmont Olympic Hotel (Four Diamond)
A historic icon, the Italian Renaissance-style hotel is in the heart of the city. It reflects the grandeur of the past, but with modern conveniences.

Inspector 31’s Favorite Restaurant: Altura (Four Diamond)
The prix fixe menu features only the freshest seasonal ingredients in unique preparations, including foie gras torchon with rhubarb and strawberries, squid ink tagliatelle and king salmon with fried ramps. Inspector 31 raves, “I love how the chef takes the freshest ingredients available and, by creatively combining flavors, fashions the most exotic dishes.”

 

5. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Inspector 450’s Favorite Hotel: Sanctuary Cap Cana by AlSol (Four Diamond)
This gorgeous, all-inclusive resort has a historical feel with breathtaking sea views. All units have full living room areas and beautiful bathrooms with separate showers and tubs. Inspector 450 declares, “If I had just one last place to go, this might be it. Fantastic food, beautiful rooms and wonderful service are just the tip of the iceberg.”

Inspector 450’s Favorite Restaurant: Api Beach Restaurant (Two Diamond)
Featuring views of a beautiful pool and a sandy beach, this restaurant features dishes with a Latin flair, including ceviche, arepa and empanadas.

 

6. Honolulu, Hawaii

Inspector 569’s Favorite Hotel: Hokulani Waikiki by Hilton Grand Vacations Club (Three Diamond)
In the heart of Waikiki, this property is surrounded by many restaurants and shops. The rooftop pool offers spectacular views of the city, the ocean and Diamond Head, as well as complimentary cabanas.

Inspector 569’s Favorite Restaurant: Chef Mavro (Five Diamond)
Elegant island décor immerses diners in a soft, mellow glow. Imaginative and creative dishes delight with flexible four- and six-course menus as well as the grand tasting menu, all with optional wine pairings. Inspector 569 shares, “Dining here is always a treat for me as this chef can make something as basic as creamed corn make your eyes roll to the back of your head!”

 

7. Anaheim, California

Inspector 603’s Favorite Hotel: Disneyland Hotel (Four Diamond)
A surprise awaits guests on arrival, as an intricately carved Disney castle comes to life with lights and music on guestroom headboards. Children’s wishes will come true when they run into the many Disney characters around the property.

Inspector 603’s Favorite Restaurant: Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen (Two Diamond)
New Orleans-style food, décor and entertainment are combined to provide a whimsical experience. This is almost as good as visiting the original “Big Easy!” Inspector 603 proclaims, “I cannot leave without having one of their delicious Beignets!”

 

8. Anchorage, Alaska 

Inspector 334’s Favorite Hotel: Crowne Plaza Anchorage Midtown (Three Diamond)
The spacious lobby at this hotel is beautiful. Guestroom and bathroom highlights include luxurious bedding, multiple outlets and USB ports and high-end bath products. Inspector 334 raves, “After a long day, I am overjoyed to find a sleep kit on my bed with pillow mist, resting cream and foot balm; the lighted makeup mirror is a bonus.”

Inspector 334’s Favorite Restaurant: Kincaid Grill (Three Diamond)
It’s no surprise that visitors flock to this small restaurant featuring inviting décor and an innovative menu that changes with the seasons. This is one of the finest dining experiences in the city.

 

9. Las Vegas, Nevada

Inspector 39’s Favorite Hotel: ARIA Sky Suites (Five Diamond)
The pampering begins with a complimentary limo ride from the airport to a private drive where guests are greeted by name. Suites on the 25th floor and up give each room panoramic views of the bustling city of lights.

Inspector 39’s Favorite Restaurant: Joel Robuchon (Five Diamond)
This fine-dining gem is one of the city’s most highly touted restaurants. Chef Joel Robuchon’s sumptuous menu caters to the sophisticated palate while flawless service prevails in the intimate and refined dining room. Inspector 39 proclaims, “This is the most spectacular dining experience I’ve ever had. Every course is a piece of art and tastes as amazing as it looks.”

 

10. Montego Bay, Jamaica

 Inspector 450’s Favorite Hotel: IBEROSTAR Rose Hall Suites (Four Diamond)
This upscale, all-inclusive resort has a large modern lobby and lounge. The grounds are lovely and feature a lazy river, kid-oriented water park and fountains.

Inspector 450’s Favorite Restaurant: MVP Smokehouse (One Diamond)
This rustic open-air eatery offers quite a bit more than your typical Jamaican restaurant. Renowned for its smoked jerk chicken and pork, the restaurant’s signature sauce is sold by the bottle. Inspector 450 shares, “Not only is this place loaded with finger-licking value, it’s smoking good too!”

For more information to plan your summer getaway, visit AAA.com/DiamondSummer.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

 

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Heather HunterAAA travel guides now spotlight kid-friendly activities for many top destinations 

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 5, 2013) – Planning a trip the whole family will enjoy is easier when you let AAA’s travel professionals help point the way with expert recommendations. To select their top picks for key family travel destinations, AAA editors became kids again. With an eye toward finding options for tots to teens, they visited and played at countless attractions touted as kid friendly — many designated as AAA GEMs, offering a Great Experience for Members — along with notable restaurants and events. This family-friendly content is available in AAA’s popular digital and printed travel guides for select destinations.

“The key to a successful family vacation is planning activities that are fun and exciting for every member of your group, recognizing that what’s exciting to a 6-year old can differ from what appeals to teens,” said Bill Wood, executive editor, AAA Travel Publishing. “Recommendations from our editors help make these distinctions, ensuring easier travel planning and memorable vacation experiences.”

AAA’s Top Picks for Kids are currently available for 19 U.S. cities coast to coast, including New York, Orlando, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. Selections are separated into categories that include options for kids under 13, teens and kids of all ages.

AAA Editors’ Top Picks for Kids can be found in the AAA.com Travel Guides, the downloadable AAA eTourBook® guides available at AAA.com/ebooks and the printed AAA TourBook® guides available at AAA/CAA offices.

SAMPLE: AAA Editors’ Top Picks for Kids – Miami

UNDER 13 

Miami Seaquarium: At this AAA GEM attraction, kids enjoy the antics of Salty the sea lion, Flipper the dolphin and Lolita the killer whale. Between-show activities include saltwater exhibits with sea turtles and reef fish. There’s even a pirate ship playground with water guns and a spiral slide.

Monkey Jungle: What could be more fun than a whole park filled with monkeys? A fenced-in path through this subtropical forest keeps humans and monkeys safely separate while allowing visitors to get really close to these wonderful animals.

TEENS

Duck Tours South Beach: If you want to tour South Beach and get a taste of its rich Art Deco legacy without hearing choruses of, “I’m bored,” hop on an amphibious vehicle. The entertaining and educational 90-minute excursion concludes with a big splash into Biscayne Bay.

La Carreta Restaurant: Enjoy a delicious introduction to home-style Cuban cuisine, a big part of the Miami experience, at this local institution, a AAA One Diamond Restaurant, on Little Havana’s Calle Ocho (8th Street). Sample charbroiled meats and chicken-and-rice dishes, and snap a family photo with the giant metal chicken outside.

ALL AGES

Beaches: You’re in Florida after all. Miami Beach is the obvious choice, particularly if you are staying there. There is also nearby Key Biscayne with its two public beaches: Crandon Park – a 2-mile stretch of sand noted for its calm waters and rental cabanas – and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, with its postcard-worthy historic lighthouse.

Everglades National Park: Drive down to South Florida’s wilderness jewel, a AAA GEM attraction. This endangered “River of Grass” is a haven to birds as well as alligators, snakes, turtles and manatees. Drive the 38 miles from the entrance to the Flamingo Visitor Center and enjoy the views from your car. Trailheads radiate out from the road at several spots, inviting short hikes. A thrilling high-speed way to explore the park is by airboat ride, offered at Everglades Alligator Farm and Everglades Safari Park.

About AAA

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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